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Gigantour CD/DVD Review

by Dan Upton

When the first Gigantour was announced last year, I was quite excited about the lineup--well, most of it, some of them I was a little foggy on how they got on the tour--and at the same time, quite disappointed that the closest stop was 7 hours away. Even worse was finding out that that venue didn't even sell half of its capacity. Fortunately, on (at least) one of the stops they had the tapes and cameras rolling, leading to this compilation of what presumably were the highlights of the evening for each band.

The 2-disc CD set has a pair of tracks each from Dream Theater, Anthrax, Life of Agony, Dry Kill Logic, Bobaflex, Fear Factory, Nevermore, Symphony X, and then three from Megadeth. For the bands that have been around a while, a lot of the tracks appear to be from more recently in their career: Dream Theater's songs are from two of their most recent three, and the Nevermore songs are from their last two, as are Fear Factory's. Not that there's anything wrong with that, since I imagine they played older material as well and it just didn't get included, but I just found it a little odd.

The 2-disc DVD set has roughly the same material, although the two Anthrax songs and one of the Bobaflex songs were cut. My first guess was that it was a lack of space on the disc, but the runtime is only listed as about an hour and a half; maybe the space is overloaded by the three audio selections (DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, and Dolby 2.0). I wish I had a 5.1 system to compare it to the regular CD audio; regardless, the sound quality on both of the sets is incredible and actually probably better mixed than it would've come out live. At any rate, the main concert DVD is inexplicably missing a few tracks, so if you only get one or the other and are particularly a fan of Anthrax that might be a deciding factor.

The second disc of the DVD has some extra interviews with Dave Mustaine and other people on the tour along assorted backstage drama and fun including an impromptu performance in Dave's dressing room by Anthrax. The best moment of the second disc though comes after Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy talks about how the band likes to do one-off covers and that ever since Dimebag Darrell was shot, he'd wanted to do a tribute performance the next time the band went through Texas. This is followed by a complete video of the performance of "Cemetery Gates," along with guest vocals by Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) and Russel Allen (Symphony X), and a guest guitar solo by Dave Mustaine.

The main thing I would criticise about the presentation as a whole is the choice of camera angles for the majority of the performances. In the commentary, Mustaine says that Gigantour is a tour for people who like guitar solos. The fact that a reasonable chunk of the bands don't really have solos notwithstanding, for a DVD of a tour for fans of the guitar solo or really prowess on any instrument, the cameras are all over the place and rarely focus on where the action is. In short, if you wanted to try to use this video footage to learn the intro solo on Dream Theater's "The Glass Prison," this would not be the way to do so. There's also apparently some confusion about whether the audio was supposed to be censored; for example, on Nevermore's performance of "Enemies of Reality," they delete from the audio channel Warrel Dane dropping an f-bomb when he's introducing the song, but then leave it in at the end. Go figure.

That said, the Gigantour CD and DVD are both pretty formidable packages. Regardless of what songs I might have wanted to hear from certain bands, most of the songs selected are pretty good, although depending on taste it's entirely reasonable that listeners will skip some of the bands--there's probably not a huge overlap in fans of Nevermore and Bobaflex, for instance. The sound and video quality are top notch, yielding a lot of punch from the unassuming case (just a black cover that says "Gigantour" and has a list of bands). Both the CD and DVD set would be excellent additions to any heavy music collection.

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Gigantour CD/DVD

Label:Image Entertainment

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